GZERO VIDEO: Will climate politics destroy the planet?

NEW YORK (GZERO MEDIA) – The latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC) presents an overly optimistic target for reducing carbon emissions and rising temperatures in the next few decades, says US political scientist Ian Bremmer.

Over 200 countries, including significant carbon emitters, fossil fuel producers and exporters, participated in this year’s report. The report is released every few years.

Mr Bremmer notes that this overwhelming consensus on the state of climate change marks a significant shift away from climate denial politics in the United States and many of the Gulf states. “That itself compared to where we were five, 10 years ago is a positive thing,” he says.

However, Mr Bremmer adds that there is still uncertainty on the long-term implications of climate change and solutions moving forward.

Mr Bremmer’s key contention with the report is its claim “that there is still an opportunity for the world to move to 1.5 degrees centigrade” of global warming. He notes that the world would need to significantly reduce carbon emissions by 2040, achieving functionally net zero emissions, to realistically achieve this goal.

Mr Bremmer says that the reason for such a lofty goal is that it is “politically contentious… to throw away the 1.5-degree goal that many countries have been publicly setting and hanging their recommendations on.”

Instead, Mr Bremmer, in consensus with the climate practice at Eurasia Group, contends that the most positive realistic scenario is 2.5 degrees centigrade of warming.

He adds that the world is currently on a trajectory of 3.5 degrees of warming and that much of the effects of climate change by 2050, including rising temperatures, extreme weather, and rising sea levels, are already “locked in.”

However, Mr Bremmer believes that even a goal of 2.5 degrees centigrade is unlikely. This is largely due to the differentiated responses of countries around the world. While the United States’ per capita carbon consumption has been decreasing for decades, China produces twice the total carbon emissions that the US does and is set to hit three times US emissions in the next few years.

Mr Bremmer concludes by stating that the ability of wealthy countries to convince India, China, and other developing nations to hit net zero targets is limited, given that developed countries are largely responsible for historical carbon emissions.

This “is going to require a conversation of equity” as countries like China and India “are trying to catch up to our living standards today,” Mr Bremmer says.

This GZERO media video is being shown here as part of a media partnership agreement with The Straits Times.

Find out more about climate change and how it could affect you on the ST microsite here.

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